People always ask me, "Chris, with all the careers out there, why did you choose to be a professor of historical theology?" I tell them it all started on Career Day back in 11th grade, when I saw this ...
I think it was the music, more than anything, that got me hooked. That and the candles.
I doubt whether anyone who reads the account above will take it seriously, but my conscience tells me I ought to take this opportunity to set the record straight and give glory to God. So here it is ...
My Testimony, or, How I Really Got Here
When I was 12, my older brother, Doug, was killed in an auto accident. It was devastating to our family and perplexing to my pre-adolescent mind, but God used this profoundly upsetting event to draw my parents, my sister and I closer to him (Rom. 8:28). We were sensitized to spiritual things almost immediately.
When I was fifteen a well-meaning friend loaned me some Hal Lindsey books (he's now the pastor of this church in Washington state). (Don't laugh: God used Lindsey's Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, of all things, to bring me to a true knowledge of the Gospel!) I believe it was then that I was converted and began this walk I'm still on, by his grace.
I had no one to disciple me. No one knew I had been converted but me, and I didn't know what I needed. I actually mingled with some very, er, non-Christian folks for the next few years, before finally deciding to follow the Lord outright. Grace outran my sin. God is great!
I was active in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Texas A&M, where I got my bachelor's. After college I was aimless and started regressing spiritually. This went on for two years. Grace abounded again, God lovingly made me miserable in my sin, and I returned to him. Obedience then led me to seminary in Dallas. I was blessed with a wife I don't deserve, on top of everything else (we now have two sons, for whom I thank God most days).
I started seminary in the hope of getting a counseling degree. In the course of the curriculum I concluded that my gifts and desires were leading me to academics, and God willing, to teaching. Joel Lawrence, a friend from seminary, was especially inspiring to me in this regard. I switched gears and began to think about going on for a doctorate.
As for the Puritans, I had been introduced to them through my relationships in InterVarsity, which brings Protestants of all flavors together: dispensationalists like me, Reformed folks, and charismatics too. I always perceived something very unique and winsome about the Puritans' faith -- how could one not? When it came time to decide on a subject of study for my PhD, I chose these early modern dynamos. No regrets yet!
Thanks for bearing with this brief summary. There are lots of other people, organizations and occurrences I could name that God has used to draw and sanctify me. May they all be richly blessed.
Winston Churchill famously said, "Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm." With Jesus Christ leading the way, I've found that's a snap.